THE WEEK

The Week - - News - Jolyon Con­nell

How quickly times can change. Just six months ago the Tories and cap­i­tal­ism seemed in the as­cen­dancy, so­cial­ism was for the his­tory books and Jeremy Cor­byn was a fly to be swat­ted at will. Now, Matthew El­liott, a se­nior fel­low of the Le­ga­tum In­sti­tute, says “the cap­i­tal­ism brand is in cri­sis”. The free mar­ket think tank’s de­tailed re­search shows that on al­most ev­ery is­sue peo­ple tend to favour non- free mar­ket ideals. They want to see the pay of CEOS capped and com­pa­nies strive to be more so­cially re­spon­si­ble. Around three-quar­ters of those polled want pri­va­tised wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and gas com­pa­nies to re­vert to public own­er­ship. Even among Tory vot­ers, two-thirds now sup­port Cor­byn’s pro­posal to re-na­tion­alise the rail­ways. Nor is it just young peo­ple who are dis­il­lu­sioned.

It is un­sur­pris­ing that cap­i­tal­ism should be un­pop­u­lar among those who don’t have any cap­i­tal. But the re­search sug­gests the over-35s are more – not less – likely to say cap­i­tal­ism is greedy and cor­rupt. This rad­i­cal shift in opin­ion sug­gests that the Tories, to quote the colum­nist Iain Martin, are “some­what stuffed”. Con­ser­va­tive MPS are start­ing to worry that their party’s prob­lem “is not a blip” but has be­come “ex­is­ten­tial”. Un­der Theresa May, their party re­ally does seem to be seen as the nasty party. Per­haps they can change this – but to have any hope of do­ing so they will need fresh faces and bold new poli­cies. At the mo­ment, as the Le­ga­tum re­search con­firms, Cor­byn is much more in tune with the public mood than May.

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